Giving art in Jerusalem a lift up

The annual Manofim arts bash in Jerusalem; a grassroots venture from the very core of artistic endeavour.

Jerusalem Arts Fair (photo credit: RUTH BERNHARD)
Jerusalem Arts Fair
(photo credit: RUTH BERNHARD)
If ever an event was appropriately titled, it is the annual Manofim (levers) arts bash in Jerusalem. Manofim also goes by the subtitle of Annual Gallery Opening Season and does just that. But it is about much much more.
“Yes, I think Manofim does help to leverage the local arts scene,” observes co-organizer and artist Rinat Edelstein, who runs Manofim with event founder and artist Leehee Shulov. “It also generates a sense of community among the artists and for Jerusalemites and visitors from out of town.”
The latter objective is partly achieved by dint of the fact that Manofim takes place in different parts of the city. Between October 27 and November 3 there will be a wide range of arts and entertainment activities taking place all over Jerusalem, such as Nahlaot, Musrara, the Old City, Jaffa Road, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Ein Kerem and Talpiot. There will also be a shuttle service to ferry visitors between the various Manofim venues.
“I would like people to also leave their car somewhere and just walk between the different locations,” continues Edelstein. “If, for instance, someone is in Nahlaot at the Barbur Gallery, they easily can walk over to the gallery at 12 Agrippas Street.” That’s not to mention the Mahaneh Yehuda market, which always has something buzzing at any time of the day.
Manofim is more than just an opportunity to get a glimpse of what Jerusalemite artists are up to and enjoy a music show or two. This is a grassroots venture that comes from the very core of artistic endeavor in the capital.
“Manofim comes from the field,” declares Edelstein. “It started out following a chat between local artists and just grew from there. This is something that comes from the artists themselves, and it is totally independent.”
There is support from various official bodies, such as the Jerusalem Municipality and the Jerusalem Foundation; but, says Edelstein, the galleries and artists involved have carte blanche. “No institution dictates what should or shouldn’t be included in the program. This is a free-flowing event that offers everyone a stage but also embraces all artistic work here in Jerusalem.”
Manofim is a vehicle for showing Jerusalemites and artists, and art lovers, from all over the country what’s going down on the Jerusalem scene, but it is also a means of bringing local artists together.
“The scene here is so varied and the city is so spread out, that we had to find a way of establishing reference points for everyone,” he says.
With that in mind, this year for the first time, Edelstein and Shulov wanted to make sure that galleries in different parts of the city shared the limelight. “There are openings on each night,” says Edelstein, adding that there is artistic enlightenment to be had betwixt the venues, too. “The shuttles also host works of art and performances, like a film that Inbar Ben-Yishai made of her taxi journeys between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv over the course of a year.”
Other artists whose work will be displayed on the buses include Noa Elron, Amir Bultzman and Yogev Frilichman, and Nadav Bin-Nun from Tel Aviv.
There will also be workshops throughout the week, including one in an unlikely but incongruously appealing location in Talpiot. “On Friday we will run the Grease drawing marathon, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Meir Davidov garage [on Ha’uman Street], with local artists on hand to guide the participants.”
The Grease garage also makes full use of its unusual ad hoc surroundings. “The work tools there will become still life objects, the garage workers will become models, alongside some professional models, and one car will be totally stripped down so the artists can sketch the various parts.”
While the workshop patrons get on with the business of portraying their industrial milieu, next door in the trade-in hall there will be a fullblown party, complete with DJs and rock band Suicide Furniture, with some book and art stalls dotted around the place.
The garage is also located next to the Artists’ Workshops complex, where Edelstein and Shulov and others work, and that will house the Jerusalem Beach exhibition during Manofim. The show, curated by Iris Mendel, features works by Jerusalem-born artists who left the city to try their luck elsewhere around the country.
“They are all top artists [such as David Adika and Sigalit Landau],” says Edelstein, “and their works offer a view of Jerusalem from both the inside and the outside.”
They also reflect the artists’ constant dilemma over whether to live and work in Jerusalem or somewhere else. “Jerusalem is a special place, with all its problems and colors and special spirit,” says Edelstein. “It is well known that young Jerusalemites migrate away from the city. Manofim is a way of letting people know there are good things happening here. I can’t see myself ever living anywhere else.”
In addition to the exhibitions and workshops, there will be an international mockumentary minifestival at David’s Tower in the Old City. Almost all Manofim events, and the shuttle service, are free.